The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is a twinjet multirole air superiority fighter developed by Russia’s Sukhoi and built under licence by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). A variant of the Sukhoi Su-30, it is a heavy, all-weather, long-range fighter.
It has two engines. Why two engines? It can fly and land on a single engine also but for safety reasons, in case one fails, two are used. Why not more than two? Because more engines will have more fuel consumption. So two meets the safety requirement and is also fuel efficient.
It means that in addition to air-to-air combat, it can be used in other missions also. This includes air reconnaissance, forward air control, close air support, electric warfare etc. Popularly known as MRCA (Multi-Role Combat Aircraft)
AIR SUPERIORITY FIGHTER:
It is a type of fighter aircraft designed for entering and seizing control of enemy airspace as a means of establishing complete dominance over the enemy’s air force (air supremacy). Air superiority fighters are designed primarily to effectively engage enemy fighters, more than other types of aircraft, although some may have a secondary role for air-to-ground strikes.
Development of the variant started after India signed a deal with Russia in 2000 to manufacture 140 Su-30 fighter jets. The first Russian-made Su-30MKI variant was accepted into the Indian Air Force in 2002, while the first indigenously assembled Su-30MKI entered service with the IAF in 2004. The IAF had 240 Su-30MKIs in service as of October 2017. The Su-30MKI is expected to form the backbone of the Indian Air Force’s fighter fleet to 2020 and beyond.
It has abilities similar to the Sukhoi Su-35 with which it shares many features and components.
The Su-30MKI has a range of 3,000 km with internal fuel which ensures a 3.75-hour combat mission. Also, it has an in-flight refuelling (IFR) probe that retracts beside the cockpit during normal operation. The air refuelling system increases the flight duration up to 10 hours with a range of 8,000 km at a cruise height of 11 to 13 km. Su-30MKIs can also use the Cobham 754 buddy refuelling pods.
The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is the most potent fighter jet in service with the Indian Air Force in the late 2000s. The MKIs are often fielded by the IAF in bilateral and multilateral air exercises.
Typhoon with SU 30 MKI
Indian Air Force bases with Su-30MKIs
- Bareilly AFS: 15 Wing – No. 8 Squadron IAF Eight Pursuits (since mid-2007) & No. 24 Squadron IAF Hunting Hawks
- Bhatinda AFS: 34 Wing – No. 17 Squadron IAF Golden Arrows (since June 2012)
- Chabua AFS: 14 Wing – No. 102 Squadron IAF Trisonics (since 8 March 2011)
- Halwara AFS: 34 Wing – No. 220 Squadron IAF Desert Tigers (since 25 September 2012) & No. 221 Squadron IAF Valiants (since 24 April 2017)
- Jodhpur AFS: 32 Wing – No. 31 Squadron IAF Lions (since 1 October 2011)
- Lohegaon AFS: 2 Wing – No. 20 Squadron IAF Lightning (since 27 September 2002) and No. 30 Squadron IAF Rhinos (since 21 March 2005)
- Bhuj AFS:27 Wing – No. 15 Squadron IAF Flying Lancers.
- Tezpur AFS: 11 Wing – No. 2 Squadron IAFWinged Arrows (since 15 June 2009)
- Maharajpur AFS: 40 Wing – TACDE (since October 2010)
- Sulur AFS to get Su-30MKI aircraft in 2016.
- Thanjavur AFS to host a squadron of 16–18 Su-30MKIs beginning in 2017.
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